ASHBURN, Va. -- Dwayne Haskins did not work hard all year to not show up in training camp. His performance on the field has been largely productive, but it's the stuff between snaps that the second-year quarterback hopes mean the most to Washington Football head coach Ron Rivera.
"Coach Rivera has done a great job helping me, taking me under his wing," Haskins said via the Washington Football Talk Podcast. "I'm just trying to be that guy, be a captain on this football team is something I really worked hard for this offseason."
From start to finish Haskins has been a different person in 2020 training camp than he was in 2019.
Last year he was a rookie with an outside chance of a starting job and an uneasy relationship with the head coach. This year, Haskins seems locked in as the starting QB and a maturing relationship with Rivera.
"He's in a tough spot because he's a guy who came in in a situation last year that wasn't ideal and it wasn't of his making. He's had to kind of grow through that time," Rivera said. "But he survived it and now he's in position to get himself ready to play this year. I think the thing that we all have to continue to do with him is continue to help him grow and develop."
For the amount of attention Haskins has gotten in Washington it's wild to think he's only been here one season. He's only got seven starts in Burgundy and Gold. Watching through two weeks of training camp Haskins has made plenty of impressive throws. His arm talent is unrivaled among the Washington QBs, and that includes Alex Smith, and Haskins seems to have plenty of command of Scott Turner's offense and of the offensive huddle.
Players respect Haskins this season, and it seems like the offensive line wants him to emerge as a star. Every time Haskins makes a big play in practice right tackle Morgan Moses seems to go crazy.
Nice throw from Haskins for a TD to Quinn. Morgan Moses was fired up "good FN throw boy. That's how you throw that"— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) August 30, 2020
Haskins understands the difference between 2019 and 2020, and most importantly, he altered his own mindset to affect change.
"Last year having to split reps with two other QBs and not necessarily get into a rhythm," Haskins said. "This year even before going into training camp I wanted to have that mindset and that work ethic as the No. 1 guy. That's how I came into this offseason and that's how I executed."
In January when Rivera took the job he publicly and loudly challenged Haskins to be a leader. In the ensuing eight months, Haskins has responded.
"One of the things that we talk about is how to lead. Sometimes you have to step up front and you have to lead in front. Sometimes you step back and lead from behind. He and I have had conversations about it and he's responded very well," Rivera said.
For Haskins he's said showing Rivera that he's maturing is one of his biggest goals. It comes in little spots, like encouraging teammates during a lull in practice, or running extra sprints with his pass catchers after camp ends.
Some post practice suicides. That's new. Haskins. 2 WRs named Sims. Gibson. Kidsy. pic.twitter.com/3zFGai3O6F— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) August 30, 2020
There's no formula for leadership. It's innate.
Last year Haskins didn't have it. It wasn't completely on him, the team was fractured from the top down. This year, he seems like a different person, on the field and off, in the huddle and on the sideline.
Let's be clear, there still is plenty of room to grow. Alex Smith is the first QB on the field seemingly every day, and the guess is Rivera would love for that to be Haskins. But some things take time, or some people are just different. There's zero evidence to support Haskins needing to work harder or hit the books more. Some of those assertions came last year, and early on, some of them were true. This year it's just not the case.
Ultimately, the best leadership will come from wins. Late drives for go-ahead touchdowns. Smart football and great football.
Haskins has made impressive throws all of camp, he's got serious talent, but while not too frequent, the misses have been bad too. Great quarterbacks not only make great throws, but they limit bad ones.
It's a work in progress with Haskins, but it's miles away from this time last year. Perhaps most importantly, Rivera sees the drive from Haskins.
The drive to win, the drive to lead, and that can go a long way.
"I just think more so than anything else is his desire to learn and win. He wants to win. He's a tough critic on himself, you see that," Rivera said of his presumptive QB1. "He's not only demonstrative, but he does know when there's a good play. That's one thing, I'll tell you that. He gets excited, he really does. It's fun to watch young guys grow."
MORE WASHINGTON FOOTBALL NEWS:
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- Jon Allen: Left practice, Rivera says he's OK
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Dwayne Haskins working to prove he's 'that guy' to Ron Rivera originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington